Cairo, April 20 (IANS) Cairo’s Tahrir Square, symbol of Egypt’s pro-democracy revolution, witnessed a massive gathering of protesters Friday in one of the largest demonstrations since last year’s 18-day revolt that ousted then president Hosni Mubarak and changed country’s political future.
The rally was called by liberals to reject the nomination of Mubarak-era figures in the presidential race. But by Friday, it had morphed into an anti-military council rally to include a cross-section of Egypt’s society with differing and competing messages, the Washington Post reported.
Islamists held a similar protest last week but liberals refused to join. It highlighted the deep polarisation of Egypt’s political and revolutionary communities weeks ahead of the first presidential elections after decades of autocratic rule.
After the Muslim Brotherhood’s top strategist and presidential hopeful Khairat el-Shater was disqualified because he was a political prisoner under Mubarak’s iron-fisted rule, the powerful organisation urged its followers to go to the square.
Disqualification of various prominent individuals from presidential elections has brought a tentative unity among the political elite. They are battling over the nation’s future and the logistics of how to put a constitution together, and are accusing one another of selling out to the military rulers.
Many are accusing the military leaders of trying to control the outcome of the elections and Egypt’s future through the disqualifications and also by interfering in the appointment of the constituent assembly.
Over 50 groups were participating in Friday’s protests, ranging from the ultra-conservative Gamaa Islamiya to the revolutionary youth group April 6, who were instrumental during last year’s revolt.